I wrote this book as fundamentally, a recession survival guide, to provide lots of strategies to help people to survive the mental, physical and financial pressures of daily life, in Ireland today where the recession is foremost on most people’s minds. I address how to live more economically, and cut household costs, in an economic climate of increasing interest rates, taxes and levees.
This book is based on my own life experience, and it follows an extremely challenging difficult period in my life. I learned these strategies through experience and necessity.
I began to write this book in April 2011, relieved, following an agreement with my mortgage provider to reduce the mortgage payments that had been punishing me and my family. The sheer weight and pressure crushed my energy in my day to day existence throughout that time. It was a struggle to exist, not an enjoyable life but an exhausting one – mentally and physically.
I had been requesting a six month break in payments, a clause in my mortgage contract, since the outset of 2007, and I had been refused- ‘because I was not terminally ill or unemployed’
I believe that every person, from child to adult in every walk of life, has been impacted by this recession, and in this book I am promoting the positive, staying in the ‘now’, while uplifting and supporting people in challenging circumstances.
I managed to survive and if I managed that, then I believe anybody can.
Many people today, are not responsible for the financial difficulties they find themselves in, nor are they in control of the financial penalties that they will incur on a national scale. This is very unsettling, and this book aims to equip the reader with lots of strategies to gain more control over daily expenditure, and subsequently feel better psychologically. I was not responsible for the situation I found myself in, back in 2007.
My financial difficulties arose because I purchased a new home on the strength of a firm ‘sale agreed’ on the house I owned. I had worked non- stop for years renovating houses, enjoying the property boom, and I felt the need for a fresh start with my girls in a new environment.
My wonderful father had passed away in 2005, and we had worked to renovate that home together prior to his death. I was feeling very low, and the memories surrounding me were overwhelming so I decided to move.
That particular move was supposed to be my final stressful ordeal and afterwards, life would have been perfect. I was already committed to purchasing the new house and was ready for what should have been a comfortable lifestyle, with less working hours and more quality time with the girls.
What ensued was a nightmare! It became the exact opposite.
The purchasing couple decided to go their separate ways on exchange of contracts. I found myself with a massive mortgage payment, fixed for five years at a set percentage, and two houses. Property sales slowed to a grinding halt and what should have been a two to three month temporary mortgage payment became a permanent fixture.
I felt physically sick and I found myself having to find ways of generating more income. I had been renovating houses and teaching the violin non stop for a number of years. I opened a small music shop supplying pupils with a small local customer base in 2009, the small but regular cash flow helping to fund my daughter in college in Galway. Juggling being a sole guardian 24/7 with teaching violin in C.I.T, teaching privately, overseeing the shop, I was working all the time to support my girls and pay the bills. I also had to drastically cut living costs. Prior to this situation I never had problems paying the bills, or providing for my three girls. I found myself in unchartered territory. The mortgage payment was devouring my salary, and I had to say ‘no’ to many of the girl’s demands. That was the most difficult aspect.
On top of that, we appeared comfortably well off to people who knew of us, but behind the façade of a nice car and two houses was a very different existence. I learned through necessity how to feed my family on less than €10 a day, and many other ways to cut my expenditure and prepare simple nutritious meals.
Honesty was my most successful weapon, in my dealings with children, colleagues, and corporate institutions and I found great relief is saying how things really were. I was supported through attending counselling sessions, and the love of my children. Counselling helped me to say clear in thought and mind and I learned to stay grounded by staying in the ‘now’.
I found writing to be therapy in itself, and I felt a huge release in documenting the experiences.
One night, I was reading a magazine article written by a woman, and I thought ‘I think I can do this! – so I started to write- and once I started, I went into intensive writing mode and couldn’t stop.
It took exactly one year from the first sentence written on April 25th 2011 to the final edit on April 25 2012 to complete. The publishing journey was a very short one really. I was fortunate to work with a brilliant editor on my first book. Initially, I sent chapters 1 and 2 to three different publishers. I had two rejections and one positive response. I couldn’t believe it at first. In fact I am still coming to terms with it all.
I hope that this book and all the documented experiences within will help people in some way, to cope with the challenges they face in their daily lives. Chapter 1 deals with the title of the book – here, I outline a sample shopping list, followed by a planned two week menu, backed up with a substantial chapter of budget recipes. Chapters 3 to 8 deal with cutting costs while shopping for clothes, in utility bills, hiring contractors for work around the house, purchasing cars, insurance and legal costs.